2017 NASPA Multicultural Institute - New Orleans Style
When I learned that this year’s Multicultural Institute was going to be hosted in my city, New Orleans, Louisiana, I knew I had to get involved in the planning-mostly because I wanted to influence people to eat at the non-tourist trap places! Just kidding… but, not really. I digress.
I honestly thought that as the new NASPA Louisiana State Co-Director (shout-out to my co, Courtney Williams at Dillard University) it would be a great way to engage more Louisiana higher education professionals at a conference. Due to the constant cuts in public higher education funding (thanks, Bobby Jindal), most of my colleagues were never able to travel to conferences, unless they were willing to pay out-of-pocket. I’ve also been involved with NASPA since I was a NUFP, and I’ve enjoyed staying involved as the the Multiracial KC NUFP & New Professional and Graduate Student Co-Coordinator and serving on the Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice Division.
As someone who is dedicated to building a more equitable society, and who usually feels exhausted by having to navigate the white supremacist environment that is the institution of higher education, I was beyond thrilled to be able to attend and serve on the NMI planning team as a local and as a first time attendee to the Institute.
I’m not going to say that, “this year, more than ever, you must attend NMI”, because really, you should be engaging in difficult conversations, unpacking your identities, confronting how you show up as an oppressor or as a supporter of oppressive systems, advocating for marginalized populations, working with dominant identities to unpack their “ish” (especially if you hold these dominant identities), and generally dedicating yourself to the fight for equity every year.
That said, I do think that this is going to be an amazing NMI. Your colleagues will be presenting on topics like student activism, navigating your professional role and being an activist, supporting undocumented students, processing the onslaught of oppression that has been unending in recent months, unpacking whiteness, deconstructing white supremacy on campus, and knocking down barriers to success for our marginalized selves, colleagues and students. The identity-based knowledge communities will also be present to hold counter-spaces.
Lastly, New Orleans is dope. Period. We have the greatest food in the country (not convinced? Follow my foodie instagram @eatenpathnola). We have the most accessible food and music scene. You can literally walk down any street and hear music pouring out of shotgun houses and watch bands playing on the corners. We have a rich, cultural history that was built by enslaved Africans and Indigenous peoples, and has been sustained by Black New Orleanians, Indigenous peoples, and the countless Latinx and undocumented families who rebuilt this city after the Federal Flood of 2005. New Orleans is bound to sink into your soul and make you never want to leave, but you’re institutions need you to bring back your learnings so please, don’t miss your return flight!
I’ll leave you with a quote from Lerone Bennett, Jr., “An educator in a system of oppression is either a revolutionary or an oppressor.” If you can’t attend NMI, that’s ok, it's more than ok, but do what you can, wherever you can, to devote time to personal growth in the areas of equity, social justice, and inclusion.
I look forward to seeing you at NASPA’s Multicultural Institute this December 10th-12th in the Crescent City!